Yup, it's gonna go there. The upcoming television biopic on late R&B singer Aaliyah will include information about her controversial relationship with R. Kelly, the New York Post reports. The two singers were allegedly married in 1994, when Aaliyah was just 15 and Kelly was 27. Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash at age 22, denied the secret ceremony throughout her life – though a marriage certificate later appeared with her age falsely listed as 18.
"Aaliyah’s personal and professional relationship with R. Kelly will be explored with care in the film as we set out to depict her life with the utmost respect," executive producer Debra Martin Chase told the Post. "Above all else, it’s our hope to inspire an entirely new generation with her music and larger-than-life talent."
But Aaliyah's family is furious about the unauthorized project and has vowed to do everything possible to stall production. "Aaliyah was more than a singer, she was — and is still — an American music icon whose legacy continues to live on and influence today’s music culture, just as Ray Charles, Notorious B.I.G., Selena and Johnny Cash," the family said in a statement.
"Considering the magnitude of her fans’ affection alone, she deserves to have a tribute much more grand than a television network debut that won’t even consider the perspectives of those who were closest to Aaliyah. Disregarding the families and dishonoring the legacies of celebrated figures who have passed on, big networks want to exploit their stories for a buck. We’re here to make it clear that it’s not okay!"
The biopic, which will span the singer's life from childhood until her death, is expected to premiere in the fall on the Lifetime network, with Disney teen star Zendaya Coleman playing the R&B princess. The film, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, is based on the bestselling biography written by former Time music editor Christopher John Farley.
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(Photos from left: REUTERS/Brad Rickerby/File Photo /Landov, All Access Photo / Splash News)
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